Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Blacklight on vintage nitro finishes

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Hotburrito1, Sep 23, 2018.

  1. Hotburrito1

    Hotburrito1 TDPRI Member

    Oct 2, 2014
    Dallastown, PA
    Is there any way to recreate the snot green color that shows up on a vintage finish under black light? I pride myself on building accurate recreations of 50's Fender guitars and Would like to be able to achieve a flourescent glow if possible. Mr. Kirn please chime in.
  2. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Jan 18, 2010
    on my bike
    Wasnt that glow you're referring to the reaction of gold on Gibsons?

    *edit- My brain didn't take hold of the "under black light". Carry on.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  3. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Aug 6, 2016
    Tucson, AZ
    If you're actually using polyurethane, you might try a diluted bit of this ...
  4. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    I think it's the pigment in the finish that's doing that. I tend to see it more on the darker areas of the guitar but I have more experience looking at Gibsons with their version of an 'all nitro' finish (new guitars behave the same way under blacklight). I have a flashlight from Amazon that's meant for finding where the cat peed ('cause obviously your nose is not enough for that job!).

    Easy enough to test on sample boards with your grain filler and whatever pigment or dye you're using for the burst/shading. I don't think the clear itself has anything in it that would fluoresce under black light.

    It just occurred to me you might be able to intentionally spoof the effect by finding some fluorescent additive - Luthier's Mercantile uses the additive in one of their glues so you can look for squeeze-out before finishing. They must get it from someplace, maybe a chemical supply house?
  5. Hotburrito1

    Hotburrito1 TDPRI Member

    Oct 2, 2014
    Dallastown, PA
    Thanks Guys Great Advice. I have been looking for a fluorescent additive. I haven't found anything that would work with lacquer. I remember My sister as a kid using fingernail lacquer that glowed under black light. I wonder if that could be added? Who knows. Probably getting too obsessive. Thanks again.
  6. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

    May 15, 2016
    Silicon Valley
    Easy, the answer is in post #4... just get the cat to pee on it. :D
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2018
  7. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Meister

    Nov 23, 2016
    Boulder Creek, Ca
    It is a common additive to conformal coatings for PC boards.

    I'm sure there is something here that would work fine with a bit of experimentation.
  8. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    No - not close enough to pass for original (I have tested several fluorescent additives and none get close). And that's a good thing, as it's the simplest method used to identify forgeries. I understand the desire to make "real vintage looking" guitars, and I'm sure your motives are perfectly legit. None of this is meant to imply you are creating and selling "forgeries" (although if you're making and selling exact copies and using Fender headstock shapes and/or decals, or calling them "Teles, Strats" or using any other trademark that belongs to any company you should check into licensing to protect yourself from legal action.

    A little background:

    During my decades in the coatings industry I was involved in instrument coatings and testing at times.

    We tested all sorts of coatings in accelerated weatherometers (an expensive piece of lab equipment that puts test panels through months, years, or decades of exposure to natural and artificial light, rain, heat, cold, salt spray and several other types of exposure and wear) Xenon, Fluorescent and Carbon Arc exposure equipment that accelerate direct and filtered UV light exposure, plus other equipment that creates other types of exposure/wear. Combining methods is the most accurate way to simulate 5, or 10, or 25 (or more) years of natural aging. I had full access and did several tests on at least a dozen manufacturer's lacquer systems back in 80's and 90's.

    We also tested artificial aging methods and additives that "sort of" approximate the look of an original finish when performing a "black light test", but the equipment is large, heavy, and costs thousands of dollars. There are also very precise ASTM methods that have to be followed when using all of these different pieces of equipment and systems. But it takes a degree in coatings chemistry to determine appropriate settings and to read/interpret the progressive data that's produced during operation to know what to stop when. I had chemists working with me.

    But even if you had every bit of the equipment and training you would not get the results you're looking for. And none of the coatings manufacturers or chemists are willing to help create that type of artificial aging, as it could be used to create forgeries. Black light testing is one of the most basic (and reliable) methods for verifying originality of a guitar's lacquer finish (and whether in poor condition or "under the bed" condition it works).

    Duplicating the "black light look" has been discussed for years by dealers, collectors, techs, brokers, high-end auction houses and others involved in buying, selling and authenticating/appraising instruments. Virtually nobody wants to see any materials or methods made available. A "refinish" results in a 50% deduction in vintage value, and if that look could be easily duplicated "passable forgeries" would be so common it would likely cause millions of dollars of damage to the vintage guitar market within just a couple of years. While individual players may want "accurate reproductions", virtually no collectors or those with vintage-related businesses want them.

    Every reputable finisher or builder who does "relic" work and ages other parts intentionally leaves a subtle, but non-removable "tell" somewhere on the instrument that identifies it as a newer instrument. It's really only necessary if buyers or sellers not very knowledgable are involved. But where experienced parties are involved in a transaction finish originality may be the only "tell".

    You just have to settle for "accurate except for the finish under test conditions". I would add at least one other physical tell (usually in a control cavity, neck pocket or pickup rout) to avoid someone trying to pass off one of your guitars as "real" at an attractive price - uneducated buyers get burned quite often as it is, and although the first buyer may be a straight shooter a future owner may not. That's why everyone I know doing that type of building leaves a "tell".

    Building and selling exact copies that include trademarked designs (and you haven't paid the licensing fees) is a civil offense - and the real manufacturer can make you stop or even sue you. The latter rarely happens, though.

    But if they are also sold as being "the real thing" that's criminal fraud.

    As I said earlier, I'm sure your motives are legit, and if it's all done on a small scale you'll probably never have a problem. But you can't be sure - so please be careful.
  9. fernieite

    fernieite Tele-Meister

    Mar 24, 2003
    (Age 55) Toronto
    Hi guys,

    Would any of you recommend any particular model of black light for testing vintage guitars?

    Next week, I'll be looking at a 1962 guitar and I'd like to bring a black light with me. Battery operated would be ideal. Would the cheap flashlight ones be good enough or is there a better alternative?

    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  10. MatthewK

    MatthewK Tele-Holic

    Jul 29, 2009
    Hobart, Australia
    Well said, Silverface. I'd be interested to know *why* the OP would focus on recreating a quirk which is not visible to the naked eye, using an additive which would differ from the original manufacture, in the name of being "more" authentic.
  11. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    i have the cat-pee black-light LED flashlight from Amazon but it requires the room to be completely dark. I think before LED's collectors used hand-held fluorescent lamps with special tubes or with a shield over the tube but those weren't battery powered.
  12. fernieite

    fernieite Tele-Meister

    Mar 24, 2003
    (Age 55) Toronto
  13. Hotburrito1

    Hotburrito1 TDPRI Member

    Oct 2, 2014
    Dallastown, PA
    I just enjoy the challenge of creating Finely detailed replicas. They all have certain "Tells" that Aren't super obvious to a novice player but stick out like a sore thumb to pros/dealers. One of my "tells" are that my "D" stamp is only 1/8" while the originals are 1/4"
    Besides Im using Modern Pots, as I don't have a steady supply of NOS parts.
    Lastly the guitar I am currently building is for me and won't be entering the guitar market (Until I die I suppose)
    Thanks for the help guys! Very informative post Silverface!
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